ICRC Director issues multiple charges against Bloomington property

INDIANAPOLIS – Jamal L. Smith, in his official capacity as the Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), issued charges today on behalf of two families who formerly lived at The Fields Apartments in Bloomington, Ind. Each charge states that there is reasonable cause to believe that an unlawful discriminatory practice occurred in violation of the Indiana Fair Housing Act (Ind. Code § 22-9.5, et seq.) and the Indiana Civil Rights Law (Ind. Code § 22-9, et seq.).

On or about October 28, 2013, Respondent revised its rental policy in several ways. Specifically, the policy imposed the following occupancy requirements:

maximum occupancy per apartment: one bedroom—1; two bedroom—2; three bedroom—3; four bedroom—4.” The policy further provided that “an additional minor child being twelve (12) months of age or less (newborn) who occupies the same bedroom with the child’s parent, guardian, legal custodian, or person applying for that status during the term of the lease, will be permitted in addition to the number of occupants defined in the paragraphs above.”

Respondent sent Complainants an email alerting them that going forward, the monthly rates would be determined on a per bedroom basis rather than for an entire apartment or home, resulting in a net increase in rent of more than $400.00 per month for each family. Respondent also informed Complainants that they could not renew their lease for their current units, but rather, had to upgrade to larger units. Both parties vacated their apartments based upon these policies. While Respondent implies that the complex in question is a “student community,” it is important to note that no such designation exists for purposes of exemption under the Fair Housing Act or other applicable laws. As such and based upon the aforementioned, the Commission found reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory practice occurred as alleged.

A public hearing is necessary to determine whether a violation of the Indiana Fair Housing Act and the Indiana Civil Rights Law occurred. As permitted by 910 IAC 2-6-6(h), Respondents, Complainant, or an aggrieved person on whose behalf the Complaint is filed may elect to have the claims asserted in a civil action under Ind. Code § 22-9.5-6-12 in lieu of an administrative proceeding.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana.